Craig Debating Himself

Ken Perrott at the blog Open Parachute found two different reports of a recent talk by William Lane Craig. The centerpiece of the talk was the now famous empty chair, representing the fact that Richard Dawkins refuses to debate creationists in general and Craig in specific.[*]

But somehow it seems that Dawkins made his presence felt, because his argument that Craig is a genocide apologist had to be answered. One attendee, Sarah Gashi, wrote:

However, ultimately one question exposed Craig’s alarmingly questionable moral principles: “Dawkins has refused to debate you because (he says) you think genocide could be acceptable in some contexts. Have you ever said anything which warrants this view, and what do you actually think?” He started with the straightforward denial that we expected – “I have not in any way ever said that God commanded, or could command, human genocide”. However, the following ten minute explanation of Numbers 33:50-54 (look it up) did not involve a justification of genocide, merely a justification of the mass displacement of an ethnic group; the kicker at the end was his summary that if this forced displacement did involve killing some Canaanites, well the adults deserved it because they were sinful, and it’s alright because the children went straight to heaven. Seriously?

Another attendee, James Rothwell, caught this comment:

One attendee, who wished not be named, called Craig’s argument “alarming”: “I’m a Christian who generally agrees with Craig’s ideas but what he said for the last question was simply disturbing. He completely contradicted himself, one minute saying that, effectively, no children were killed in the genocide, only to say later on that it was OK that children died, that it was God’s will, and that they were saved from a debauched culture.”

He added: “I believe in a benevolent God, but that didn’t sound very benevolent at all.”

Craig has a problem. His argument that all morality comes from God leads ultimately to the discussion of genocide, and genocide is bad PR. That leads him to kettle logic like the above: it didn’t really happen that way, and even when it did happen that way it doesn’t matter. You don’t need Dawkins there to point out the problems with this kind of argument.

[*] As an aside, I like Deacon Duncan’s suggestion that Dawkins should now challenge God to a debate and come to all his events with an empty chair for the Ancient of Days. Only to make it work it should probably be a throne.

Where the Fire Comes From
Meet The Wife
Jesus was is a Muslim
You Can't Keep a Bad Man Down
  • zach

    fascinating. i’m not usually a fan of dawkins, honestly, but his chair is pretty damned competent. i appreciate the links… readin em up right na na na

  • Revyloution

    Oh Snap! You know Craigs arguments are weak when his own followers can see through them.

  • John C

    But of course its no genocide at all, only a ‘killing’ of that old man and nature in the fallen sense, that one who ‘stands in the way’ of our entering into ‘the promised land’ (knowing Christ as life, Christ who is our real and glorified ‘kind & quality of God-intended life’ Col 3:4). This is what the life of faith is all about, transitioning from an earthly, seen and fallen reality UP to a heavenly (meaning spiritual in nature), unseen and glorified state.

    Religion is not the true offer. Thankfully.

    • JohnMWhite

      Look, if you’re going to use the bible as your source for things like “knowing Christ as life, Christ who is our real and glorified ‘kind & quality of God-intended life’”, then you have to actually believe the book when it says God ordered the wholesale slaughter of entire peoples.

      • John C

        Yes, He also ‘drowned them all to death’ in Noah’s floodwater’s too so that only ’8′ people survived (what is the symbolic meaning there?). He’s just despicable eh?

        What a paradox, this God who also claims that He is Love. So which is it JMW? Is He love or wrath? And how can you know for certain friend?

        • Brian M

          I agree with John C. His vague self-described feelings and tepid pronouncements of the hippy-dippy lovey dovey “God is love” variety mean that he (John C) must be right.

          Because he says so, no?

          Gnosticism in all its pretentious glory.

          That is all anyone should need, right?

        • JohnMWhite

          Well, god could be a lying scumbag who claims to be love but demonstrates himself to be anything but, or the entire bible could just be made up by lots of different people over centuries, resulting in a wildly inconsistent character for god. So which is it, JohnC?

        • Michael

          I believe both testaments make it clear that God is “both love and wrath,” whatever the fu­ck that means.

          It seems ancient authors were excellent at devising a “god” so vague it could fit whatever role you want it to.

          • Brian M

            Happily, John C is here to set the record straight!

          • Nick

            I don’t think the capacity to generate the Eigen God died out with ancient authors.

    • Yoav

      And what does taking the young virgin girls of your enemies as sex slaves suppose to represent?

    • trj

      You need to work on making your symbolism consistent. You always harp on how we should “grow down” and be like children to get closer to God. That doesn’t fit terribly well with a story where the children are massacred at God’s command.

      I suppose those kids just stood in the way of your spiritual growth, huh?

  • Custador

    I particularly liked that Dawkins was simultaneously symbolically absent in four separate cities at once. Even for a Christian that’s setting the goalposts a little bit narrow!

  • A. Cooper

    So he runs from genocide to ethnic cleansing. Because *that* is such a great moral refuge. . .

  • Steven Carr

    We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.

    As the Bible says, greater love hath no man that that he is happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.

    Why all the big fuss about Jesus dying for our sins, when Craig assures us Jesus was happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy?

    When Christians go on and on and on about Jesus dying for our sins they should read William Lane Craig who doesn’t forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.